Welcome to the sixth annual EMS 10 Innovators in EMS program. This article is a preview of a special digital supplement sponsored by Physio-Control and JEMS. The supplement, which is available at jems.com/ems10, will introduce you to some of the most devoted, innovative and visionary people working in EMS today.
A panel of professional EMS colleagues and peers selected the distinguished winners, who are highlighted in this year’s issue. Each winner was selected because of his or her drive to impact the providers, patients and communities they serve in a way that moves EMS to a higher standard of care and compassion. The winners embody the definition of imagination, commitment, persistence, dedication and, above all, team leadership.
Each outstanding winner has selflessly dedicated themselves to raising the bar when it comes to caring for patients and supporting the ongoing growth and development of the EMS community. Because of their determination to make things better, they've overcome personal and professional obstacles to add their voice in elevating awareness and motivating those around them to achieve more effective ways to collaborate.
The repeated, tragic mass casualty shootings reported over the last several years all too often give rise to the uneasy awareness we have around senseless violence. Although many of the news reports surrounding these incidents focus on the victims and their families, the first responders to those scenes are often all but forgotten once the mayhem is over. But many of these professionals go on reliving the event, often indefinitely.
Determined to correct this, Philip Callahan, PhD, NREMT-P, decided to address the growing problem of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in first responders. He created the first-of-its-kind resilience-based curriculum aimed specifically at teaching first responders how to deal with the stress of mass casualty events, particularly those that can create long-term PTSD problems. In Callahan’s complete profile in the EMS 10 online supplement, you’ll read how the program addresses these events and how changing behavioral and cognitive skills can help attendees deal with issues of anger, sadness, depression and fear. Attendees learn how to strengthen their listening and communication skills and, ultimately, rely on others to restore their mind/body balance.
Sometimes life can move in unexpected directions and turn a negative into a positive. Victor Convertino, PhD, turned an early failure in his career into a life of extraordinary professional success. His journey has allowed him to take his impressive medical knowledge and use it to benefit thousands of veteran and civilian medical providers and patients throughout the world.
Convertino’s development of the Compensatory Reserve Index (CRI) and intrathoracic pressure regulation (IPR) therapy is revolutionizing the way patients’ arterial waveforms are monitored on and off the battlefield. His research and technologies have saved countless people, even those who might have been beyond saving, and has helped combat medics a half a world away save soldiers’ lives.
Scott Matin, MBA, NREMT-P and Peter Dworsky, MPH, CBRM, NREMT-P, are two forward-thinking paramedics who are trying to change the deeply embedded culture of “lights and sirens” on every call. They studied the staggering statistics of EMS injuries and deaths due to ambulance crashes and decided it was time to do something about it.
So the pair created an action-oriented movie, Driving Responsibly: The Truth about Sirens that shows compelling reasons for turning off the sirens and slowing down. You’ll read about how they came up with and executed the idea, as well as about the unusual experiment they conducted at the end of the video that just might change some minds—and some procedures—to save lives.
Most would agree that it’s better to go through life with a friend. And no one knows this better than David Edgar, MHA, an assistant EMS chief in West Des Moines, Iowa. But rather than have just a few friends, Edgar has helped create an alliance of many friends who are changing the way medicine is delivered.
The partnership has helped gather together a children’s hospital, a Level 1 trauma center, and a suburban and community hospital, all in an effort to streamline EMS and patient care. You’ll read how the achievement of these efficiencies were brought about, in part, by the creation of an unique matrix that closely tracks fatigue rates for EMS personnel.
When Ahamed Idris, MD, served in Vietnam, he encountered the same pain and trauma on the battlefield as his fellow combat medics. He also found something many of them didn’t—a career path. His experience changed him and shaped his interest and passion for emergency medicine. That passion has led him to achieve remarkable research advancements in cardiac arrest survival rates.
As the lead researcher for the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, Idris has created one of the largest cardiac arrest registries in the world and launched several clinical trials that have changed the way chest compression is administered. His research has resulted in the new knowledge of a chest compression rate “sweet spot,” which has altered medical delivery in this area and could open up a new field of research in medicine.
Rick Lewis, EMT-P, and John Riccio, MD, created the first-ever program literally driven by an EMS “Batmobile.” The two put their heads together to develop a program centered on a state-of-the-art complex mobile laboratory, staffed by an advanced practice paramedic and a nurse practitioner. The rolling lab was designed to respond to low-acuity calls, which allows paramedics and firefighters to be available to respond to critical-call patients.
The program serves a 176-square-mile district in metro Denver. The core mission of the program, and the vehicle, is to free up prehospital responders to attend to more acute emergency calls—and it’s succeeding with both responders and the community. The new program is expected to save the metro district $2 million this year.
For Shaughn Maxwell, EMT-P, his innovation started with a book and a series of checklists, and the end result may transform the way EMS operates. His idea—to make a series of checklists function as the cornerstone of EMS medical practice—is starting to catch on.
Two years ago, Maxwell was reading The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. You’ll read how he took a seemingly simple concept from that book and contemplated how he could incorporate the idea into every aspect of the EMS industry. Maxwell figured out how these checklists might improve medical delivery and what the impact might be overall for EMS. He brought people together to create a few simple checklists and these checklists may very well inform new ways of thinking for medical personnel around the world.
Farooq H. Muhammad, EMT-P, is a paramedic with a flair for the dramatic. Employed as a lieutenant by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), Muhammad combines his medical skills with some unique equipment to further the cause of EMS. He uses video and editing equipment, as well as self-written song lyrics, to spread his message, and the “rapping” paramedic has made quite an impression on the EMS community.
Using his ability to write and record songs about life in EMS has garnered Muhammad—and EMS—worldwide attention. His unique approach to talking about the rewards and challenges of EMS has resulted in the production of five rap videos, which have now racked up more than one million views. But more than just entertainment pieces, each video conveys a serious message about the difficulties EMS providers face in doing their jobs. Muhammad hopes that the videos help prehospital and non-prehospital providers alike understand the true nature of emergency medicine.
Jim Parrish, MBA, FACHE, FACMPE, the CEO of Winnemucca, Nev.-based Humboldt Hospital, has steered the organization from modest roots to a dramatic increase of services over almost 10 years of leadership. In that time, he has streamlined processes; upgraded and integrated a $10 million computer system under one network; beefed up paramedic hiring, skills and training; and overseen a new 35,860-square-foot building expansion. And he’s just getting started.
The crowning achievement of Parrish’s vision has been the development and execution of a community paramedicine program and police paramedic program, both of which have had a meaningful impact on the surrounding community. The programs have saved time and money and built the kind of community goodwill that all EMS agencies strive for in this age of diminished personnel and resources. Parrish has taken the reality of his circumstances and molded them in a way that's both effective and inspirational.
Kevin Seaman, MD, FACEP, cares deeply about improving cardiac arrest survival rates in his Howard County, Md., community and beyond. With that goal, the medical director spearheaded an effort to create a comprehensive cardiac arrest campaign that's had significant impact.
You’ll read about how the robust program brought awareness and training in high-quality CPR to EMS providers, medical dispatchers, community leaders and students. You’ll also read about how the GlideScope video laryngoscope, an innovative piece of the CPR campaign, is boosting intubation success rates—significantly improving the quality of CPR delivery.
Each and every one of the winners profiled in this online supplement is making a difference in EMS. Their vision and determination is changing the landscape of how prehospital care is administered—and perceived—by those inside and outside the EMS community.
The profiles of these individuals highlight the achievements and actions they’ve made in trying to make EMS safer, more caring and compassionate, and more respected by both patients and prehospital providers.
We hope you enjoy reading about the many accomplishments of this year’s winners. We also hope that their examples of professionalism and alternative perspectives on the challenges faced by EMS will inspire you to start thinking about improvements you can make in your own agency, organization or community. Each of these winners took on a problem facing EMS and began looking at solutions from every facet, viewing each side of the problem like a prism. The answers may have eluded some in the beginning, but each persisted in thinking deeper, collaborating broadly, and conversing across predetermined boundaries.
Should you have the opportunity to speak to one of these profiled innovators, or if you come across a previous EMS Innovator winner, please take a moment to express your thanks for their willingness to go the extra mile and never give up in their quest to make emergency medicine a respected and esteemed field.